I first ate mung beans when I was in yoga teacher training and we did an Ayurvedic cleanse, which—as anyone who has done something similar knows—involves copious amounts of kitcheree (a.k.a. mung bean stew).
In addition to providing the fun of saying “mung beans” in casual conversation, these little guys offer tons of protein and fiber, are filling and yummy and have the added allure of being exotic yet humble: Two things that really appeal to me personally in my favorite foods.
Typical dals or kitcheree tend to be a little dense and heavy, but this version has a bright freshness that I love. Based on a recipe by Mark Bittman from his amazing cookbook How To Cook Everything Vegetarian (a tome, by the way, that should be in every vegan and vegetarian kitchen), this is by far the most delightful iteration I have found of a classic Indian dish.
Mung Bean Dal with Apples, Coconut, and Mint
1 1/2 cups dried mung beans, washed and picked over
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 t/l fresh grated ginger. (Keep fresh ginger root in the freezer in an airtight container and pull out when desired. You do not need to peel ginger stored this way; simply pass over a microplane until you have the required amount.)
2 green apples, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 cups coconut milk (I like full fat, but light is fine too)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup sliced scallion
1 t/l fresh grated ginger
Juice of one lime
Combine beans, coconut, apples, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coconut milk and brown sugar in a large pot. Add enough water to cover and bring to boil over high heat. Turn heat down to medium low or a strong simmer. Cook until beans are very soft, 45 to 60 minutes, stirring often and adding more liquid (broth, water or coconut milk) as needed. When beans are tender and liquid has thickened, stir in salt, pepper, mint ,scallion and lime juice and cook for one or two more minutes. Serve immediately with rice or any kind of Indian bread.
Mark Bittman also offers this variation, which I think is genius:
Mung Bean Dal with Carrots, Cashews and Basil
Instead of apples, use use four medium carrots peeled and shredded. Instead of shredded coconut, use whole cashews. Toss a couple of dried Thai chilies into the pot and replace mint leaves with fresh basil.
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